Eli McGraw took one look at the entrance to the Glacial Research Facility and shrugged. From what he gathered at the base camp, he wasn’t really needed. They didn’t seem pleased to see him but that didn’t mean shit to Eli because his paperwork was in order. He wasn’t too sure if driving a truck from the camp to here was a good idea but he did it anyway. From his truck he gathered his gear. It was time to do some exploring and looting.
Gear: Two Heavy Revolvers (8 missile or 8 energy or nanite syringe), Shock Gauntlets (4d4 No AR Pain), Big Knife (3 melee), Nano Shield (10 melee, 10 missile 1/2dmg, 10 energy) plus Insulated Heavy Duty Environment Outfit (10 chill), Auto Health Spider (A.I. Jellia Jamb), 3 Days Food/Water, Extreme Camping Equipment, Radio, Rope with Hook, Old VLAD badge (1st mission Running GAGG).
Backup: A.I. Jellia Jamb (1st mission Running GAGG), 10 attribute points*Int/Cha only/30 skill points): Int 3, Cha 7, Computer 6, Drive 3, Etiquette 3, Fast Talk 3, Healing 3, Pilot 3, Science 3, Tech Forger 3, Tech Repair 3. She is installed the Auto Health Spider (Not sure what the stats are but pretty sure it can’t take a hit).
Eli was pleased to see EEF Soldiers were guarding the entrance and helped him get clearance with the local A.I. apparently named Ze. He boarded the Hovertram at the entrance and saw a variety of options available.
Some were blocked out by EEF clearance. Eli would ask the EEFers about those once he got back from his first scouting.
The areas with Denied Access were the Security station, the Comms Center and the Main Biomes.
However three zones appeared recently added to the accessible Metro list. Metro 22 Water Purification. Metro 23 Toxic Chemical Storage, Metro 24 Constabulary Ward.
The A.I. displayed a request, “Please Select your destination”
Eli McGraw: “Metro twenty-two and twenty-three just want to make me pee. I’ll select Metro twenty-four, please.”
Selects Metro 24 Constabulary Ward
Jellia Jamb: “Good choice there hoss. At least this way you won’t destroy the water supply or poison the whole facility,” she chirped from his back.
Eli McGraw: “Yeah. All I have to worry about is getting mauled, shot or stab by robots, nightmares or what not at least or unleash some kind of security doom on this whole region. Mighty nice of me if I do say so.”
Jellia Jamb: “Cheer up McGraw. At least you’ll only die 10.5 kilograms over weight with minor liver problems.”
Eli McGraw: “Should’ve brought a drink.”
Jellia Jamb: “You forgot a flashlight. You should have took one from the truck.”
Eli McGraw: “Let’s ask for one at the Constabulary Ward.”
Jellia Jamb: “Sure, it’s your funeral.”
Eli McGraw: “You’re damn right it is.”
The Hovertram sped ahead, zooming to locations on each floor before descending another floor. To reach Metro Station 24, Eli was able to catch a glimpse of the Security floor and Metro 4, with EEF guards on patrol. He recognized Agent McMurphy as one of the technicians working alongside the EEF to descipher a security computer. He also recognized Lurtor and Grim from his brief time working for the VLAD Agency. Grim was an older merc, from Eli’s point of view, and Lurtor a new kid on the block. But the tram kept speeding and left Station 4 behind.
They passed the comm center, still filled with skeletons still dressed in much older original colonist uniforms, still sitting at the desks they died at.
Continuing on to Metro 5 Eli passed by a massive Med Lab. And at Metro 7, he could see the massive Nuclear plant that acted as a backup power source for the Facility if the Solar Power Plant was ever to fail.
He passed by Metro 12 where the Biomes were. Massive underground forests, which were quite impressive. Being an old afficionado of Earther history and Earther books, Eli recognized a few of the plants and insects in the biome as Old Earth originals, not like the potatoes, tobacco, and corn they modified in Saragosa to survive on Refuge.
The Biomes were full of EEF soldiers taking readings from the plants and insects.
Suddenly the Tram went dark, and Ze was projected as a small cherub above Eli.
“Passenger Eli McGraw, we are currently entering the ice sheet. Any loss of power may result in an immediate drop in temperature. Please make sure to wear cold weather gear when exiting the vehicle as sections past this point are not currently connected to the Facility power grid,” said Ze.
Jellia Jamb asked, “Ze, why are these areas not connected to the grid.”
“Security, and several other sections of the facility were forcibly cut from the power grid,” said Ze, “But that predates Mr. McMurphy uploading me to the systems here, so I do not have data why. In the case of Metro 4 Security Level, the EEF has re-established power by restoring broken power couplings. However you will be the first recorded life form entering Metro 22-24 since power was reestablished to the main facility.”
Eli took a deep breath as the tram came to a stop at a slate grey wall with the simple words Metro 24: Constabulary Ward. Next to it was an airlock which was currently sealed.
He stepped off the Tram and felt the temperature drop.
His nose began to sniffle a little, and the snot turned to an icicle as he was trying to wipe it away. Eli walked up to the Airlock, and reached out towards the console set in the wall next to it.
It lit up as his hand got close, and there was a projection of a security key card. The design was way older than anything Eli had seen so far, but he suspected he had something that would work. Grabbing out his old VLAD badge, he flipped it over and unlocked a section in it where a coded chip was embedded.
He slid the now exposed chip into the card reader slot and hoped it would handshake.
The door opened with a hiss of escaping air, and Eli grabbed it and pulled it open the rest of the way. He stepped inside, and the door lazily closed behind him. A few moments later the airlock door in front of him opened to reveal a warm and well lit entrance way with a receptionist desk and a wall made of clear plasteel panels. Looking past the panels showed a very simple small jail-style setup. There were thirty cells, each with a nanite forcefield emitter and bars. The forcefields were currently down and the bars open.
Walking over to the plasteel panels, he could tell something had shattered one of them. Sneaking through the hole. He was now inside the ward itself. Looking down at the cells, each had a view from above so two guards walking the catwalk above could see into every prisoner’s little world. Most were empty, except three cells.
The first interesting cell had a pile of clothing wedged up in the corner.
The second cell of note was in the center of cellblock. It was a human body dressed like a guard. At its side was a pistol, currently looking like it had jammed. The guard body was on the floor, It was dressed in standard Marzac body armor, apparently that one company hadn’t changed much in 2000 years. The helmet was still on the body, so Eli couldn’t tell what killed him from this angle.
The third cell was abutting a wall. It looked like someone had carved an escape tunnel into it and the escape tunnel went right into the ice at a 45 degree angle. There appeared to be blue liquid, maybe antifreeze (Eli couldn’t tell at this distance) dripping from the tunnel.
Which does Eli investigate first?
Drawing a big knife out with the right hand, Eli examines the first cell with the pile of clothing.
As Eli approached the pile of clothing, the pile moved as the least nightmare hiding underneath it sensed living flesh.
The nightmare leapt at Eli, and in a moment he was able to see it in the flickering light of the ice. The Nightmare actually resembled McMurphy himself, except the arm ended in a bone spike instead of a hydraulic fist.
Eli dodged the bone spike, driving his own knife into the exposed throat of the nightmare. Black Nightmare ichor flowed from its veins and Eli used his next moment to plung the knife into the Nightmare’s eye killing it instantly.
Eli stepped back, and realized the nightmare had a pair of old partially healed bullet wounds in its head. Looking at the size of the bullets, Eli was pretty sure they came from the security guard’s weapon.
Checking the nightmare’s hole, he found some old clothes, and a small allen key that looked like it was part of a set. He put away the allen key and approached the security guard.
Flipping the dead body over, he was surprised to see so much of the body intact. Mostly frozen the body hadn’t decomposed. Instead, Eli could clearly see a single bite had taken out the security guard’s throat. Instead his eyes were drawn to the Sec Guard’s face. Despite being dressed like an original colonist, the face of the Security Guard was identicle to the face of Old Vlad. The only question was did Eli know of the Old Vlad and his criminal network?
Or was this security guard body, just another corpse to the well traveled gunslinger?
Eli McGraw: “Jackpot. Old VLAD provides again.” Eli takes the pistol from the corpse drags the body the receptionist desk. He places the body in a chair and ropes it up real good. “J.J. y’all need to wake 'em up.”
Jellia Jamb: “Are you sure you want me to try? I don’t like that look you got in your eye. You realize this really good chance this is a bad idea, right?”
Eli McGraw: “Yeah, yeah it is. Do it.” Eli places the health spider on the corpse’s neck.
Jellia Jamb: “Live. Liivvee. LIVE!”
Jellia wondered at first if the body was past her capabilities, due to the long time frozen. Luckily, as she checked the body, she found a small compartment holding fully active healing nanites in a small subcutanous container.
Just the sort of back up life restorer a true spy would have implanted during life. The nanites quickly brought the clone of the old Vlad back to life.
The clone opened his eyes, and his eyes widened as he realized he was bound.
At first he said, “What day is it? What year? Has Colony General Glypson and Comissar Von Glomhammer arrived yet? I hope I’m not too late to warn them…”
Then he noticed the lights and security systems were off, and most of the power was out. The clone looked at Eli’s outfit and immediately clammed up saying, “Huh, not an EEFer eh? I’d say a normal colonist but your clothing and gear are far from Standard for the Colonization effort on this planet…
Judging by the disrepair around here, I’d say its been quite some time since I was killed? More importantly did you catch Reilly? He was here somewhere…before the monster got me…”
“Yeah, they arrived. Don’t remember too much about the guy name Glypson 'cause he kinda faded into history. Von Glomhammer, though, turned into a real evil jackass. Does the date 2219 on planet D-445, aka Refuge, mean anything to you? Been sleeping awhile you have,” Eli stated dryly.
Picking up J.J. the health spider, Eli extended his hand. “Eli McGraw of Dusk and provisional agent of House Borvis slash Academia of Chooru. Right, you be tied up at the moment. Who might y’all be and what 'appen before you got killed?”
“My name is Vladimir Hutchens, and I was looking for an escaped prisoner named Reilly before I got killed. I think Reilly got infected with something that dripped down here from that hole one of the other prisoners tried to carve through the wall,” said the clone trying to keep his cover, “I needed to warn my friend, he works in the Variable Light Assault Division offworld, and could have gotten a warning to them all…things are way worse here than expected.”
The clone sighed, “Okay so I think the infection reacts with technology. That’s about all I’ve discerned so far.
Avoid any blue-green fluid with silver or metallic colors in it.”
“Things are a bit different from what you 'emeber Hutchens. The world you knew is gone if you 'aven’t put two and two together. I’m hear to figure out what happen and secure anything important.”
Eli whips out his big knife and advances towards Vladimir. “I really don’t trust you and I do regret I have to do this,” Eli states sadly.
Jellia Jamb: “No! Don’t do it!”
Eli McGraw: “I ain’t got no choice J.J.”
Jellia Jamb: “You bastard! Don’t you know how precious…?”
Eli McGraw: Interrupting her, he does the deed. He cuts the rope off Vladimir. “It’s expensive rope alright but I never learn how to tie or untie right.”
Jellia Jamb: “The rope’s cost could feed a person for a year! Idiot, choices like that it’s no wonder you got swindled.”
Eli McGraw: “Calm yea’r robo tits. Not going to throw it away; We’ll get some mancer to fix it.”
As he picked up the pieces he turn back toward Vladimir. “Got more in the truck anyway.”
The clone thanked him, and massaged where the ropes had been binding him.
Walking over to the icy hole in the wall, he said, "I wonder…Mr…? What is your name sir?
I wonder if we could get the old security computer up and running at Metro 4. How many people have come here with you?"
“You can just call me Eli,” offered Eli “Earther Gunslinger of Dusk”, “Former Disgraced VLAD Agent/One Guy Out of a Few Who Laundered Money for Them”, “Drinks a Little Too Much Some Times but Gotten Better Since the Baby”, “Not a Time Clone”, “Kinda Crazy Jerk”, McGraw.
“Keep away from 'ere hole. EEF sort backing me back (not really) around here and I got some support outside here this base.”
“Since this place is a mess, let’s try our luck on the metro. It’ll give me some time to fix and clean your old pistol.”
Eli and gang head back to the train and try to get to Metro 4.
Eli keeps on a eye on Vladimir Hutchens.
The trip to Metro 4 took a few moments. Metro 4 had been on full lockdown since Eli had arrived at the GRF, apparently Grim and Lurtor had discovered something in the computer room that resulted in the EEF giving up any pretense of this being a civilian operation. He hadn’t heard much about it other than technicians were working around the clock to download sensitive security data.
When the hovertram pulled up to the gate, the gate did not open and Eli and the clone were stuck waiting for a while. Finally one of the far doors on the tram opened, and a trio of EEF special forces walked onboard. In their center was a fourth man, a human with handsome features and black hair up in a samurai cut. His blue uniform had the markings of an EEF Commander. His chest had few medals, but Eli recogized the ones that were there were the ones that really counted. He had the Gold Medal of Bravery for standing by the Colony General’s side during the Glomhammer Coup. The Purple Heart for suffering a near final death protecting the Colony General during the VLAD Incident. And he had the Platinum Stations Medal for commanding Operation 00 in 2218AR during which the EEF liberated Refuge from the Iron Republic.
Eli recognized this man from his days hanging out with the infamous Group 2. This EEF Commander had been their handler back in the day, and Eli would recognize Agent Oolong anywhere.
"Let’s dispense with any pleasantries Mr. McGraw, do you mind if I call you Eli? Good. Eli, due to no fault of your own, this entire expedition has been compromised. As a result what was supposed to be a Civilian expedition has been replaced by my staff. Certain sections of the Facility are off limits and that includes Metro 4: Security. Because of your respected status, I thought I would tell you in person.
I also understand you found an interesting person deep in the old Constabulary Ward. How did I know? The Tram and the A.I. are feeding back info as each new section of the Facility is activated.
Which leads us to Mr…Hutchens?"
Oolong’s deadly gaze alerted Eli that the Commander knew exactly who the clone was.
“Yes Sir, Private Hutchens sir,” replied the clone.
“And what do you have to report Private Hutchens?” asked Oolong.
Eli noticed the commander’s hand was now resting on the ceremonial officer’s sword at his side. The hilt hinted at a katana-like weapon.
The Clone, still disoriented, replied, “I don’t know how long its been since the Colonization period, but I have a crime to report, and a potential criminal to find.”
“Yes?” asked Oolong, “Tell us about this crime.”
"Exactly one week before Colony General Glypon’s ship is scheduled to arrive here to begin the full colonization of this planet, a rogue EEF Gunship Captain stole a cloaked ship and snuck here. Maybe he was a man suffering PTSD from his time serving in the Silent Wars, maybe he was just delusional. His doctor back on Polaris Central Station said he was a suffering from an advanced form of Rind’s Disease. His name is Riley P. McMurphy, and I believe he killed everyone here…
I also suspect he contracted an unknown and alien form of nanite infection that may threaten every human being in this building…"